Publication Date
November 10, 2006

Presented at: The Technical Advisory Group (TAG) Meeting on Communication for Polio Eradication

This PowerPoint presentation was part of a November 2006 meeting hosted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) African Regional Office (AFRO) in Zimbabwe. At this meeting, country-specific presentations were made by communication practitioners in 5 countries which have experienced ongoing cases of wild polio virus (WPV) from 2005 to 2006. The objectives of the meeting included the following:

  1. To critically review country communication strategies and activities for polio eradication, routine immunisation and integrated expanded programme of immunisation (EPI)-polio action including progress in implementing the
    Yaounde 2005 TAG country recommendations.
  2. To develop the technical recommendations for each country which, when implemented, would improve polio and routine communication performance.
  3. To develop and propose communication indicators that can be effective in measuring the impact of communication strategies for improved polio eradication and expanded routine immunisation.

This presentation gave an overview of the spread of WPV, routine immunisation (RI) and diptheria, pertussis and tetanus (DPT) coverage in Ethiopia. It also discussed current risks to surveillance and communication, and outlined several communication strategies for the polio eradication initiative (PEI) and expanded programme on immunisation (EPI). The presentation concluded with a discussion on Ethiopia’s 2006-2007 social mobilisation (SocMob) plan, and addressed some key communication challenges facing immunisation coverage.

According to this presentation, the number of children under 5 years of age vaccinated against WPV in Ethiopia has increased steadily from 8 million in 1997 to over 20 million in 2005. A series of slides illustrated coverage statistics for national immunisation days (NIDs) and sub-national immunisation days (sNIDs) in the Woreda region between 2005 and 2006. The largest causes for failure to vaccinate in these cases were identified as absence of the child and non-compliance.

RI and third-dose DPT coverage (DPT3) results for Ethiopia were given through until the end of 2006. Only 8% of the target population for DPT3 vaccination currently resides in a zone experiencing less than 50% coverage. Also included was a structure for community participation, detailing the involvement between community, regional and partner organisations.

The current risks to surveillance and communication were presented, including: poliovirus circulation in the Horn of Africa; low routine EPI coverage; border and ethnic over-grazing conflicts; refugees and displaced individuals; low community awareness; and absence of community surveillance in most parts of the country.

Communication strategies in the following four main areas were also discussed:

  1. Advocacy
  2. Social mobilisation
  3. Programme communication
  4. Improvement of service delivery and training.

These strategies were followed by discussions on social mobilisation support to supplementary immunisation activities (SIAs) in the Somali region, plans to involve stakeholders at all levels, and programme communication (PC) training. The current media environment at national and regional levels was described, and it was reported that news media was the source of information about the September 2006 sNID in 14% of cases. The financial needs and achievements surrounding the 2006 sNIDs were also discussed.

An outline for Ethiopia’s 2006-2007 social mobilisation plan given in this presentation included the following actions: establishing six regional inter-agency coordinating committees (ICCs); establishing seven cross-border EPI/NIDs and acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) surveillance community health committees; pursuing community-based resource mobilisation to ensure programme ownership and sustainability; and requesting the aid of religious councils such as the Catholic Diocese, Islamic Affairs Supreme Council and Evangelists
Churches to issue one joint proclamation on EPI/NIDS and AFP surveillance following the examples of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church (EOTC).

In conclusion, upcoming communication challenges in cross-border communities were presented, including the following:

  • Promoting high level advocacy at community level
  • Giving immunisation high profile at operational level
  • Providing adequate information on immunisation
  • Ensuring hard to reach areas
  • Training religious leaders on SIAs to gain attention on EPI programmes

Click here to download the full PowerPoint presentation as a PDF file.